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Japanese Angelica Tree

Japanese angelica tree (Aralia elata). Photo Credit: John M. Randall, The Nature Conservancy,

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Common Name: Japanese Angelica Tree
Scientific Name: Aralia elata
Origin: Northeast Asia


The Japanese angelica tree is a deciduous shrub or tree that can grow up to 40’ in height. The tree is multi-stemmed, and the bark is covered in sharp thorns. The sometimes variegated leaves are bi- or tri- pinnately compound with a pubescent underside. Cream and white colored flowers grow in large panicles which bloom in late summer. The tree produces purple/black fruits in the fall.


Like many invasive plants, the Japanese angelica tree prefers disturbed grounds and edge habitats. It is also commonly found in open areas, wooded edges, thickets, and urban landscapes.


The aggressive growth pattern of the Japanese angelica tree allows it to outcompete native species. It prolifically sprouts from root suckers to form large dominating thickets. Over time, these thickets displace the native vegetation, and reduce biodiversity.


When the infestation is small and the plants are young, this species can be manually removed. For larger infestations and individual plants, herbicide is recommended to prevent resprouting. Herbicide can be applied by spraying the foliage or basal bark treatment. Physical damage to the tree spurs regeneration, so it is less effective to girdle or cut-stump treat Japanese angelica tree.

Regional Distribution

Early Detection

Japanese angelica tree was first reported in WNY in 2018.

WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 2 – Eradication


Japanese angelica tree was introduced in the 1830’s as an ornamental landscape plant. The seeds are mainly spread by wildlife and the sprouting of root shoots leads to the formation of dense thickets.

Japanese angelica tree is a prohibited species in New York State – for more information on Prohibited and Regulated Species, visit


Additional Resources:

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: Fact Sheet

Mistaken Identity: Invasive Plants and their Native Look-alikes: Pages 8-9, Japanese Angelica Tree vs. Devil’s Walkingstick